Truly Wireless earbuds have been out long enough now that overseas manufacturers (as well as Apple) have had plenty of time to copy the crap out of them.
The premium options from Jabra, Samsung and Bragi all have high build qualities and massive feature sets but also a carry a hefty price tag to match.
So today we’re going to look at some cheaper alternatives with 2 budget-friendly options under $60: the QCY Q29 TWS and the GRDE truly wireless earbuds. But there are a metric buttload of clones available on Amazon that have extremely similar builds and feature sets.
Both of these noise cancelling earbuds are running BT version 4.1, have a microphone for calls, have 1 multi function button on each earpiece, and each earbud can be used independently.
I’ll first run through the pros and cons of each pair and then go into the good and bad that are shared between the 2.
The QCY earbuds are usually $60 but I got a lightning deal for $40 making them a great value.
This pair was appealing to me as it copied the big players closely with their earpiece design and convenient charging case that doubles as an extra battery with a 220 mah capacity.
– These earbuds look great and are built very well
– They’re also very comfortable and their low profile helps reduce wind noise
– They surprisingly stayed put and didn’t fall out even while not “indoor relaxing” as mentioned in the product description but don’t even try to use these for anything more jostling than walking the dog. But I can confirm that, Yes, they will work for outdoor relaxing.
– The nicely built charging case is super convenient and offers an additional 12 hours of battery life but that’s where the good ends.
– Pairing was awful using their suggested procedure, but turned out to be simple after the initial connection. The suggested pairing instructions are confusing at best and they even give a very clear warning on the product description.
– Also, the Sound is very tinny and you may hear slight delay between left and right earpieces
– They are challenging to reposition them without pushing the multi function button and said button has limited capabilities with No volume controls
“KIND NOTICE QCY Q29 Bluetooth headphones suit for indoor relaxing NOT RECOMMERND FOR SPORT”
“CAUTIOUS this TWSTrue Wireless earbuds need a new pairing method which may be a little bit complex If you are not quite comfortable for learning the different tech please think twice before purchasing”
Terrifyingly hard to understand instructions…
The $40 GRDE earbuds (with a much easier name) were appealing because of it’s sport-centric features like the earfin and sweat proof design.
– As expected, the Earfins did in fact keep them secure even with jarring activities like running and mtn biking and they have held up to the sweatproof claim after handful of schweaty rides and runs.
– They do stick out farther than the QCYs, so if they do lose placement, it’s much easier to reposition them plus single multi function button is smaller so accidental presses are less likely.
– And finally I liked the fact that you could still charge them with just a standard micro-USB cable and the split cable that was included kept things tidy at the charging bay. If you lost the charging case on the QCYs, you’re kind of hosed.
– Very cheap feeling and they aren’t exactly a looker either
– You have to have the perfect placement to get optimum sound
– Just like the QCYs, they have limited MFB capabilities with No volume controls and they also may have a slight delay between the left and right buds.
– Although their high profile design makes it much easier to reposition, they will catch a lot of wind.
– The sound is also very tinny with little bass response. I was hoping the MUSIC app mentioned in the instruction manual would be able to help this with an EQ,but for the life of me I couldn’t find it on the App Store.
So here’s what you can expect with BOTH units
As I mentioned earlier, the pairing procedure for the QCYs was horrific but after the initial pairing, they connected nearly every time using the manual procedure that is shared between the units: simply turn on one unit first, then as soon as that is connected, turn on the other and both connect to your device.
In terms of Sound Quality,
– What you would expect out of nearly any pair of $40 bluetooth headphones
– Both will be very tinny and won’t have much bass response although both produce surprisingly clear sound.
– If you like your music loud, I’d look elsewhere as both units won’t get that loud, but with the lack of bass response, you’re not going to want these louder than normal anyways.
– However, the noise cancellation was good on both and the Battery life was decent at 3-4 hours
– They Both use same firmware from what I can tell and Both have instructions so clear that they will make your brain hurt.
Just like anything else, you’re going to get what you pay for but I have to say, both of these were surprisingly good with each of them having some good and some bad. If you can deal with sub-par sound quality but want the convenience of truly wireless earbuds without having to do this (cut Jaybirds), I’d give either one of these a shot. Even though the charging case is convenient and provides some on-the-go power, I probably can’t recommend the QCYs cus they can fall out of your ears rather easily, but they are super comfortable. The GRDEs are a great budget option however for the sporty type if you can deal with sub par bass response.